Boeing's Latest Freighter Fleet Forecast Points to 80% Growth by 2041
Boeing's latest freighter fleet forecast points to 3,610 airplanes in service by 2041, an increase of 80% against the in-service 2019 fleet of 2,010.
Pre-pandemic, the 2019 world freighter f leet consisted of 2,010 jet airplanes. By the end of 2021, the fleet had grown to 2,250 freighters. At the same time, freighter utilization operated at approximately 125% of normal levels.
The return of parked airplanes to the fleet, combined with higher-than normal operations levels, has added much-needed capacity, and will fulfill replacement demands throughout the forecast period.
Over the next 20 years, the freighter fleet will grow from pre-pandemic levels by 80%, which represents 3% average annual fleet growth.
Boeing forecasts approximately 2,800 production plus conversion deliveries, with approximately half of them replacing retiring airplanes, and the remainder expanding the fleet to meet projected traffic growth.
Roughly two thirds of all deliveries will be freighter conversions of passenger airplanes, about 70% of which will be standard body aircraft.
Reflecting the higher traffic growth outlook, as well as higher replacement needs, this year’s forecast is up nearly 7% over last year, with increases across all segments.
In the standard body segment, the fleet is projected to grow by 90% over 2021 levels, as viable feedstock becomes more available and e-commerce network growth boosts demand.
The segment will continue to see conversions to meet growth and replacement demand, with a projected 1,300 conversions.
On the replacement side, more efficient airplanes will increase sustainability—and further boost capacity, as today’s conversions are larger than many of the airplanes being replaced.
In the widebody segment, the fleet is forecast to grow by nearly 75%. Both conversions and production deliveries are higher than last year. Expanding express networks will drive growth in the medium segment.
And, in the large widebody freighter category, just over half of the 660 airplanes flying at the end of 2021 are nearing retirement age. As a result, projected new widebody demand of 515 units will account for both replacements and future growth.
New demand for widebodies will remain robust, as their advantages in unit cost, utilization, and range make them vital to operators for long-haul, general air cargo service.